Welcome to Atwood Tate’s industry spotlight series, where we go behind the scenes of each of our recruitment desks to give you the scoop on working with Atwood Tate. This week’s entry is with Clare Chan, who works on Science, Technical, Medical, Distribution, Operations and Production roles across London, the Home Counties and East Anglia. In this entry, Clare will be breaking down how to get into Production, Distribution and Operations in the publishing sector.
What does ‘production’ mean in publishing?
There is a wide range of production roles in publishing, most commonly Production Assistant, Production Controller, Production Editor and Production Manager. Production itself can be varied– covering printed and digital books, printed and digital journals and more. The skill set of a Production Manager in trade books versus a professional publisher can be very different, so it is all down to the content of what is being published to determine what kind of production knowledge you should have or what duties you will be doing in the role. So a role in children’s books will probably be highly illustrated and need someone with a good eye for detail and 4 colour experience.
What will be the academic requirement?
There isn’t a specific requirement to get into production roles. You will need to demonstrate substantial project and supplier management as well as excellent communication skills because the majority of the suppliers will be offshore. You will also need to have good software skills, i.e. Excel spreadsheets, InDesign and Adobe CS, Biblio3 (especially for trade book publishers) or XML publishing (for digital publishing).
What background will the clients be looking for?
Your previous experience plays a significant role when it comes to applying for production jobs. Production roles are not as fluid as one would think when it comes to switching roles. For instance, if you wanted to become a Production Controller in a children’s book publisher, you should have novelty book production experience and also knowledge of European toy safety legislation. And if you are to work for a journals publisher, you will be working as a Production Editor and dealing with external typesetters to get the journals published which often also requires copy-editing skills. More details about Production Editor will be discussed in my next blog when I explore STM editorial roles – keep your eyes open for that!
Is there good progression in production?
There is a good progression and a clear career strucutre and you will also become a production specialist as you build up solid knowledge from previous experience. One thing to bear in mind is that production technology is ever changing so keeping up with new software and technology is essential. The book industry is a great example: decades ago, it was all about off-set printing, but now we have digital printing as well as e-book and audiobook production.
What key skills do you need?
A good learning attitude is a must. Good communication skills, project management, time management, account management as you will manage different suppliers (most often overseas) and there could be pressing deadlines from time to time so being organised is important too. Numerical skills are also important as you’ll could be working with Excel, calculating and negotiating costs for reprints and shipping etc.
Distribution and Operations
What roles are there in the Distribution and Operations in publishing?
We deal with a range of distribution and operations roles. Examples of roles we recruit for include Inventory Assistant, Inventory Coordinator, Stock Controller, Supply Chain Manager, and Head of Operations. Distribution and Operations plays an essential part in a publishing house, monitoring the inventory and arrange reprint or stock movement when needed.
What skills or knowledge will the clients be looking for?
Analytical skills and excellent software knowledge. You will be using Excel spreadsheets a lot, including Excel formulas. Depending on the publishers, you might also need to have certain software knowledge. Communication and organisation skills are also essential as you will be coordinating with in-house colleagues from Design, Editorial, Rights, Sales & Marketing as well as external suppliers.
Is there good progression?
Similar to Production roles, Distribution and Operations are also a specialist roles with good progression. You may eventually lead the team and be promoted to Inventory Manager and Head of Operations. Keeping up with the latest data management technology will also lead you a long way in the field. Candidates with Production experience may move laterally into Distribution and Operations for a change in their career path. There are always new opportunities!
If you have any questions about Production, Distribution or Operations roles, feel free to get in touch with Clare at email@example.com!